Editor's note: It took 16 months, but the state's special prosecutorhas completed his investigation into allegations that State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman improperly released a police report detailing a drug search of a car belonging to the former campaign chairman of hisrival in the bitter 1990 campaign. While the report says no laws were broken, the prosecutor did say Hickman released the report for "political advantage" and caused Scott W. Markle to be depicted "as a criminal without benefit of a trial." However, the prosecutor declined to recommend action, saying the case was "a quagmire which we do not choose to enter." He said Markle could take other action, such as filing a civil suit. Both Hickman and Markle say the report clears them. We have been asking readers if they agree with the report, if they believe Hickman and/or Markle are cleared, if the prosecutor took too long completing his probe and if he took the easy way out by choosing not to enter the quagmire. Here are some of their replies:
From: Corynne B. Courpas
As treasurer of the Barnes campaign and as a closepersonal friend of Scott Markle, I have observed all the events depicted in the Montanarelli report firsthand.
Before passing judgmenton the 35-page report, I believe that the following points should beconsidered.
1. Scott Markle was never arrested or charged with any crime. And, in fact, I know that he never committed any crime.
2. Mr. Hickman has admitted he knew that no drugs were found in Scott's possession, when he made statements to the contrary in a televised debate.
3. Scott's "circle of friends," as mentioned in the report, was not an ordinary circle. They were a group of Democratic activists that the Drug Enforcement Coordinating Committee was trying (unsuccessfully) to link with drug use.
4. Upon receiving the investigative report from its custodian, Mr. Hickman was warned that he should not release its contents.
5. Both Tfc. Grimes and Assistant State's Attorney Truette told Mr. Hickman that Scott was working with the DECC and that his identity was not to be revealed.
6. Although Mr. Montanarelli has decided not to prosecute Mr. Hickman, he has found that "the primary moving force in this troublesome affair was political advantage."
Most of your respondents will not have read the entire 35-page report, as I have. Let me assure you and all your readers that the report clears Scott Markle completely.
The fact that Mr. Hickman can state that he feels vindicated by this report only pointsout, once again, his callousness regarding these events.
I was raised to respect our law enforcement officials and have always done so. However, the anguish brought on Scott and his family and friends bythese events can never be erased from my mind.
The fabric of our society is woven with the threads of justice, fair play and the presumption of innocence. By his actions, Mr. Hickman not only violated aninnocent man's rights, but he prostituted our criminal justice system for purely self-serving reasons.
Vindication does not come in narrowly escaping criminal charges. Those who seek to be the guardians of justice should remember: Justice may be blind, but the electorate is not.
*From: William Sraver Jr.
How can we pass judgment on a report we have never seen?
Why don't you publish it?Where can we get a copy of it?
It definitely was unnecessarily delayed.
*From: John W. Carswell Sr.
The Hickman-Markle report resolved nothing.
It did show that the prosecutor recognized Mr. Hickman's viciousness.
I just hope that Mr. Markle willforgive Mr. Hickman and leave justice to God.
TEA TIME ISN'T A FANTASY
From: Lloyd R. Helt Jr.
Mayor of Sykesville
It's December1773 in Boston.
Sam Adams and the boys over on the Commons are quite upset about a tax placed on tea by King George of England. They believe that the colonists receive little from the tax in service, were not represented before the king when it was approved, and thereforeshould not pay it.
They decide to dramatize their opposition by dressing as Indians, marching to the harbor, boarding the good ship HMS Dartmouth, and dumping its cargo of tea overboard into the sea.
It's March 1992. The commissioners of Carroll County decide to imposea tax, or fee, for recycling upon the good citizens of the free and independent town of Sykesville.
The town, on its own, with little county support, is already recycling an average of 23 percent of its trash stream. The rest of the county, in contrast, only does 5 percent.
The town has no representative on the commissioner panel. The town citizens are to receive little for their payment and have little to say in how it is spent. The town, in short, is being penalized fordoing what the county should have done years ago.
In response to this outrage, the town's citizens revolt. They agree to pay to the commissioners only their property taxes, less the heinous fee. In placeof the fee, they further agree to mail the county a tea bag.